The bombing today of a commuter train in southern Russia shows callous indifference to civilian life, Human Rights Watch said today.

During rush hour, at around 8 a.m. local time, a powerful explosion ripped through a commuter train near the town of Yessentuki, about 100 miles from Chechnya. According to officials, the explosion killed at least 41 people and injured another 155, many of whom have been hospitalized. In the wreckage of the train, security officials have reportedly found the body of a man strapped with undetonated grenades; three female attackers are said to have jumped from the train just before the explosion. Chechen rebel leaders have denied any involvement in the attack.

“Targeting a commuter train during rush hour is a despicable crime,” said Rachel Denber, acting executive director of the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch. “Its perpetrators must be found and brought to justice.”

Suicide bombings have become increasingly frequent in Russia in recent years. Chechen rebels are believed to have been responsible for many of these attacks, including the December 2002 bombing in Grozny of the headquarters of the pro-Moscow government of Chechnya; an attack on a government building in Znamenskoe in May, Chechnya; and an attack on a military hospital in Mozdok in August.

In October 2002, armed Chechen rebels took about 800 people hostage at a theater in Moscow and threatened to kill them all. To read Human Rights Watch’s recent reports and releases on Chechnya, please see: